Posted at 6:00 a.m.
Nazem Kadri has been a major contributor to the Colorado Avalanche’s success over the past year, both in the season and in the playoffs. Teams interested in him, however, must ask themselves a delicate question: if a striker who has consistently collected 50 to 55 points since the start of his career suddenly signs a performance of 87 points in 71 games at age 31, is this the new norm or a parenthesis? The answer to this question is paramount and could cost Kadri dearly if no one is willing to bet 8 million on him. According to The Athletic website, the New York Islanders have shown interest in him.
There has been talk for almost two years of when John Klingberg would achieve full autonomy. Right-handed defensemen who produce at the rate of 56 points per 82 games, there are not tons of them. And since he was a real boon to the Dallas Stars, it seemed obvious that his next contract celebration would look like a Lil Wayne music video. However, two weeks after the opening of the market, the Swede is still waiting. Are his demands excessive? Or are the teams lukewarm to the idea of hiring a defender who will turn 30 in mid-August at a high price? All the more reason for a player who has accumulated a differential of – 53 for three years, even though he was playing for one of the most defensive clubs on the circuit? File to follow.
We end up not thinking about him anymore, but Phil Kessel, the NHL’s new iron man, is free as air. What value does the 34-year-old American still have for a team? Hard to say. He’s a shadow of the dangerous scorer he once was, but the 44 assists and 52 points he amassed last season at Arizona despite limited ice time suggests he can still make themselves useful, if only on the power play. What is certain is that the sum linked to his next contract will be light years away from the 8 million he has pocketed annually since 2014-2015.
Only 10 center players aged 30 or older had 45 points last season. Paul Stastny is part of this list. Peter’s son has been producing with metronome regularity for a decade. On social media, Colorado Avalanche fans seem to be dreaming of a return to Denver, where it all started for him. If this scenario were to materialize, it would indeed be a cheap solution to replace Nazem Kadri.
Apart from John Klingberg, only one defender still available played more than 20 minutes on average last season. Anton Stralman is no longer the extinguisher he was a few years ago in Tampa, but he has not said his last word. He will soon be 36 years old and is in exceptional shape. If he accepts a contract at the low price, he could be a viable option for the Canadian, who is sorely lacking in depth on the right in defense.
Another mysterious case. How does a support forward, a shy contributor since the start of his career, suddenly add 19 goals and 43 points to his record? Yes, here it is: playing with Sidney Crosby. The 28-year-old Torontonian, who has already tasted freelance for the third time, will he convince a team that he can reproduce the same performances without a star player by his side? That remains to be seen. His meager collection of 10 points in his last 49 games, after a hot start, does not play in his favor.
Zach Aston Reese
His name does not have the stuff of those who sit at the top of this list. However, he fully deserves to be there. His role is that of a fourth-line player, no doubt about it. His typical contribution is around fifteen points, maybe a little more if he could finally play all 82 games in a season. But his defensive contribution is undeniable. At five against five, he does well in all categories. Few forwards went on the ice for fewer goals last season at five-on-five. He should find a job easily by the fall.
What do Sonny Milano, Danton Heinen, Ryan Donato, Sam Steel and Daniel Sprong have in common? They are 24 to 26 years old. They have just experienced very drinkable seasons. And they are all looking for a job. Their respective team did not submit a qualifying offer to them, so they had access to full autonomy earlier than expected. In the cases of Milano, Donato and Heinen, who were entitled to arbitration, we suspect that the Anaheim Ducks, the Seattle Kraken and the Pittsburgh Penguins preferred to let them go rather than have to pay dearly. their offensive successes of the past year. As for Steel, ex-first-round pick of the Ducks, one can wonder if the fact that his name finds himself linked to the Hockey Canada scandal in 2018 – without proven guilt, should we specify – harms his chances of signing a contract. contract.
And the guards?
The goalie market exploded before mid-July and suddenly died out. We can understand why: only seven goalkeepers who played at least one game last season in the NHL are still available. And that includes the prolific Michael McNiven, whose experience was limited to 20 long minutes in January 2022 against the Minnesota Wild. Braden Holtby is the best-known name on the shortlist, but an injury suffered last March could see him miss the whole of the next campaign or even force him into retirement. Veterans Andrew Hammond and Jean-François Bérubé could still sign contracts by the start of the school year. If so, they would likely go to the American League.